by Staff Writers
Pachuca, Mexico (AFP) July 3, 2011
At least 16 people have been confirmed dead Sunday in Mexico after Tropical Storm Arlene drenched much of the country with heavy rains and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
State officials raised the toll by five after more bodies were discovered swept away by raging rivers in northern town of San Luis Potosi, and a landslide buried a taxi cab in the Oaxaca, killing one woman.
In Veracruz, civil protection authorities also confirmed Sunday the death of a first responder working to secure the area swamped by flooding.
The first named storm of the Atlantic season barreled ashore along Mexico's Gulf coast on Thursday, dumping several centimeters (inches) of rain in areas still recovering from last year's wettest season on record.
The dead also included five people who died overnight Friday and early Saturday in central Hidalgo state, where swollen rivers burst their banks and forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate their homes, according to Civil Protection force director Miguel Garcia.
In the central state of Puebla, a woman was crushed to death when a tree collapsed on her house, while in the neighboring state of Veracruz one person was killed when a mudslide buried their home. Ten people were wounded in that incident.
In central San Luis Potosi state, a 19 year-old boy drowned when he was swept away by a river as he worked in the field.
Two people died in northeastern Tamaulipas state, including a bricklayer who was struck by a live electrical cable that snapped in strong winds.
Much of the country was subjected to the foul weather, including the capital Mexico City and its outskirts, where a child's death Friday was blamed on the storm, and the Pacific coastal resort city of Acapulco.
Some 278,000 people were left homeless or otherwise impacted by the storm, according to provisional tallies.
earlier related report
Ports in Veracruz state were closed due to waves reaching six meters (20 feet) in height, the local Civil Protection office reported. Forecasters predicted constant rain would continue until the weekend.
The US National Hurricane Center said Arlene barreled ashore at Cabo Rojo, a cape just off the mainland in Veracruz state, packing sustained winds of 100 kilometers (65 miles) per hour, with higher gusts.
But it dissipated quickly and by 0300 GMT the NHC said Arlene had faded over the Sierra Madre mountains, leaving only remnants of the first named Atlantic storm of the season and winds of 45 kilometers (30 miles) per hour.
Arlene "is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 7.6 to 12.7 centimeters (three to five inches) over eastern and northeastern Mexico through Friday afternoon," the NHC said, warning that "these rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides."
One person was electrocuted in the port of Tampico after touching an electricity pole that had been downed by the winds, said Pedro Benavides, chief of the civil protection rescue service in the state of Tamaulipas, which neighbors Veracruz.
Veracruz and Tamaulipas went on high alert, and several ports were shuttered due to the stormy surf. Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte said 178,000 people were affected by the punishing rains.
Mexico's navy and army opened 398 shelters Thursday and were monitoring area rivers for possible flooding, officials said.
In the central state of Puebla, the heavy rain triggered landslides that damaged homes and blocked highways, local officials reported.
State-run oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) issued an alert for its facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that safety measures were implemented for its platforms and that ships were secured.
Mexico was struck last year by what the government described as the wettest rainy season on record.
Tropical storms and hurricanes caused flooding and mudslides that killed 125 people, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and caused damages of more than $4 billion.
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Tropical Storm Arlene drenches eastern Mexico
Xalapa, Mexico (AFP) June 30, 2011
Strong wind and heavy rain lashed much of eastern Mexico Thursday as Tropical Storm Arlene made landfall at near hurricane strength, whipping up Gulf waves large enough to force area ports to shut down. Ports in Veracruz state were closed due to waves reaching six meters (20 feet) in height, the local Civil Protection office reported. The US National Hurricane Center said at 1500 GMT tha ... read more
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